The Phantom of the Opera
Title: The Phantom of the Opera
Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring Cast: Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Patrick Wilson, Natasha Richardson
Reel Reviews Rating:
Sad to say, I have not yet seen The Phantom of the Opera onstage.
I knew the basic plot and of course the famous songs such as “Music of the Night”, but I haven’t had the chance to experience it live.
When I heard last year that a movie was made based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, I thought to myself, well, at least I’ll get an idea of what it was like.
My parents and sister had gone to New York a few years back and saw Phantom, so naturally when the movie version came out they went out to see it.
Strangely, my mom said that she preferred the movie version better, namely because she was able to follow along easier and because she could see the actors’ faces.
They bought the DVD a few months ago, and this Christmas I was at their house so I got the chance to watch it.
When I looked at the box it came in, a sense of disbelief suddenly filled me when I read the name of the director: Joel Schumacher.
This is the same guy that nearly destroyed the Batman franchise with Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.
How good can this movie be?
Then again, Schumacher did direct The Lost Boys, one of my all time favorite vampire movies. Besides, how bad can he screw it up?
The answer: not bad.
Not bad at all.
The movie opens in Paris 1917, with the scene of an auction taking place in what appears to be a dilapidated opera house. There are cobwebs on the ceilings and the seats look shabby. An old man sits in a wheelchair, listening quietly as the auctioneer peddles off artifacts from the opera house. Across from this man stands an old woman, and from the knowing looks they give each other, it’s understood that they share a past, something they experienced in the opera house that changed their lives.
Suddenly you’re thrust 47 years further in the past, to 1870. You see the Paris Opera House in all its glory: gleaming chandeliers, gorgrous velvet seats, gold trim everywhere. There is an opera troupe rehearsing onstage. Two gentlemen have recently taken over the Opera House and are inspecting their new investment when they learn it came with a little surprise- a Phantom.
The Phantom is a mysterious “ghost” who terrorizes the Opera House and the opera troupe. When his demands aren’t met, he disrupts their performances. A musical genius, the Phantom has also been mentoring Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum), a young chorus girl, molding her into a star. Over the years the Phantom has fallen in love with his protege, and he will stop at nothing to get her to the top. But what happens when Christine falls in love with Raoul, the handsome young Vicomte de Chagny? You’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.
Since I haven’t seen the musical, I can’t use it as a basis of comparison with the film. Then again, even if I have, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two. Even though they have the same plot, same characters, etc., movies and musicals are made for different audiences, and audiences expect different things from each. Therefore, I’ll just review the movie itself.
In short, my fears of it being a Schumacher film were unfounded. I thought it was fantastic. The story was beautiful, the sets were amazing, and I loved the singing. I couldn’t believe that Emmy Rossum did her own singing. Hell, I saw her play Jake Gyllenhall’s girlfriend in The Day After Tommorow, so I figured she was an actress, not a singer.
I loved Gerard Butler as the Phantom. Not only did I think, “Whoa, the Phantom’s hot!” when I first saw him, but I thought that he played the part well. And although Butler is more of an actor than a singer, I thought that he sang wonderfully. Minnie Driver is hilarious as La Carlotta, the haughty, tempermental diva. And no, that’s not really her singing those supremely high soprano notes. In fact, I think she’s the only one who didn’t do her own singing in the movie, but it’s understandable considering she’s not a real opera singer.
I highly recommend The Phantom of the Opera. If you’re a big fan of the musical, don’t fall into the trap of comparing it with the movie, or comparing say, Emmy Rossum to Sarah Brightman. Appreciate the film and musical for their own worth.
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